I begin today's post by relaying a story that my pastor shared this morning from the Word in Daniel 3. (Using The Message version for readability)
"King Nebuchadnezzar built a gold statue, ninety feet high and nine feet thick. He set it up on the Dura plain in the province of Babylon. He then ordered all the important leaders in the province, everybody who was anybody, to the dedication ceremony of the statue. They all came for the dedication, all the important people, and took their places before the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had erected.
A herald then proclaimed in a loud voice: "Attention, everyone! Every race, color, and creed, listen! When you hear the band strike up—all the trumpets and trombones, the tubas and baritones, the drums and cymbals—fall to your knees and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Anyone who does not kneel and worship shall be thrown immediately into a roaring furnace."
The band started to play, a huge band equipped with all the musical instruments of Babylon, and everyone—every race, color, and creed—fell to their knees and worshiped the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
Just then, some Babylonian fortunetellers stepped up and accused the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "Long live the king! You gave strict orders, O king, that when the big band started playing, everyone had to fall to their knees and worship the gold statue, and whoever did not go to their knees and worship it had to be pitched into a roaring furnace. Well, there are some Jews here—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—whom you have placed in high positions in the province of Babylon. These men are ignoring you, O king. They don't respect your gods and they won't worship the gold statue you set up."
Furious, King Nebuchadnezzar ordered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be brought in. When the men were brought in, Nebuchadnezzar asked, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you don't respect my gods and refuse to worship the gold statue that I have set up? I'm giving you a second chance—but from now on, when the big band strikes up you must go to your knees and worship the statue I have made. If you don't worship it, you will be pitched into a roaring furnace, no questions asked. Who is the god who can rescue you from my power?"
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, "Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn't, it wouldn't make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn't serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up."
Nebuchadnezzar, his face purple with anger, cut off Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace fired up seven times hotter than usual. He ordered some strong men from the army to tie them up, hands and feet, and throw them into the roaring furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, bound hand and foot, fully dressed from head to toe, were pitched into the roaring fire...
Suddenly King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm and said, "Didn't we throw three men, bound hand and foot, into the fire?"
"That's right, O king," they said.
"But look!" he said. "I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!"
Nebuchadnezzar went to the door of the roaring furnace and called in, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the High God, come out here!"
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fire.
All the important people, the government leaders and king's counselors, gathered around to examine them and discovered that the fire hadn't so much as touched the three men—not a hair singed, not a scorch mark on their clothes, not even the smell of fire on them!
Nebuchadnezzar said, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued his servants who trusted in him! They ignored the king's orders and laid their bodies on the line rather than serve or worship any god but their own."
So the question today is: What happens when the cost of doing business IS my ethics?
I wrote not long ago about specific questions that I had regarding the Kimkins program and its founder, Kimmer/Heidi Diaz. In my request, I emphasised that my desire and goal in that correspondence was to be able to promote the company which I worked for, with integrity and a clear conscience. But, the heart of the issue clearly and quickly became a very personal question. I had to determine for myself what would happen if I would have to give up my values to keep my job. This is a fundamental question, that really encompasses every aspect of my life. My pastor said: "Ethics are like water, they seep out in every area of our lives." When we begin to compromise and rationalize our ethical standpoints, it becomes easier and easier to make little compromises in other areas of our lives.
When faced with a "sticky" situation, it can be very easy to rationalize our behavior. Our rationalizations can entail 3 trains of thought. Sometimes one, or a combination of all three influence our decision making:
1) My economic standing: If I stand for what I believe in, how will I pay for my expenses? This truly hit home to me. I am a stay at home mom. I would be lying if I said I didn't worry sometimes about where the money is going to come from to buy groceries or pay the electric bill. I realize now that this was a baiting tool that was used against me. It was VERY difficult to walk away from my position with Kimkins because I had no idea what would happen financially. I was constantly reminded of my dependence on Heidi and my "need" by subtle comments such as "you're worth much more," "you're making more than 'person'" and "I'm giving this out of my pocket."
2) The EGO of my position: Do I continue to play the game, just to keep my position? I was the cover-girl. Kimmer's "right hand girl." THOUSANDS of people have seen my face and are counting on me to help guide them. Flattery is a trap, a snare to entangle those who are unaware and easily distracted. There is a distinct difference in my mind between a complement and flattery. Complements are sincere and genuine. They are meant to edify and encourage. Flattery is sticky sweet. It drips with ulterior motives. There was definitely an abundance of flattery being flung around.
3) My Efforts Sacrificed: I could not go backwards. I spent HOURS and HOURS on the forums, helping, offering assistance, encouraging, not to mention time spent on multiple other projects and responsibilities that I spearheaded and began; media contacts, kimmerwear, recipe contest, advertising, recipe box organization, maintenance program, public relations duties.
But, are those things worth the sacrifice that I would be making for my own conscience. What would I be giving up by continuing to represent a company and person whose moral and ethical practices are shady at best? In Heidi's own words:
"I don't see that there's a future for you with Kimkins unless you can come up with something that wouldn't jeopardize your integrity."
"Again, if anyone isn't willing to take a bullet for Kimkins (and why on earth should you), no problem at all."
What is my reality?
If I had made the choice to stay with Kimkins what would I lose?
1) Loss of my moral authority. How do I trust God if I take matters into my own hands? How can I encourage others to trust Him?
2) Loss of my self-respect. To take the "easy road" would be cowardly, a cop-out. When I began this blog, I titled it "The Journey" with the intention of taking "the road less traveled." I can not live in fear of what may happen by making the difficult decision to stand against the King.
3) Loss of seeing God show up in powerful ways. Taking shortcuts disallows God's power. The greatest stories are those in which His power shows up in miraculous ways. How many stories would go untold because of my short-cuts?
In the story, King Nebuchadnezzar required self-worship as a symbol of his subjects loyalty to him. You may say - well.... I will bow to the idol on the outside and follow what is right just in my mind. The idea being... I can do more good on the inside than the outside. But how many people will see you for what you are? No one else can see your mind. To them, you are still bowing to the idol.
The King said - If you do not do what I say, you will be thrown in the fire... I'm the king, I can do whatever I want to do."
Do you believe that "your king" is in control of your life though? Do you trust more in your economic or social standing than in God?
I do not. I know that I serve a God who is able; a God who will deliver me from the fire. I chose to stand for what is right. I refuse to bow to the idol and compromise my integrity for the easy road and to save myself from "death."
My favorite part of this story and analogy is this: I stood for what I believed in with my 2 friends... my Meshach and Abednego... Becky and Deni. We are in the fire. We are standing for honesty and integrity. But we are not alone. We have a 4th guardian. Thank you Lord Jesus for standing with us. Praise God that I have confidence and a surety that we will not only come through this fire unscathed, but He will use us in ways that we have not yet even begun to imagine.
This post is my application and summary of a sermon presented this morning by Pastor Tim Hawks of Hill Country Bible Church. You can hear the complete message HERE.